Marjorie Taylor Greene and Kevin McCarthy | New York Times (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Disclaimer: The myth of "liberal" news: How the media does the work of fascists By CHAUNCEY DEVEGA - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view
A recent story in the New York Times, “House G.O.P. Prepares to Slash Federal Programs in Coming Budget Showdown,” offers a powerful example of how even in the midst of an escalating crisis where Republicans are naked and unapologetic in their attempt to end multiracial pluralistic democracy, the myth of the liberal media still endures and is doing great harm to how the American people make sense of the forces that are pummeling them. The Times begins with:
The first word is “hard-right”. Immediately the Times positions the Republicans as being on a reasonable continuum of political ideology (opposite of “liberals” and the non-existent “hard left” in Congress) instead of as being neofascists, insurrectionists, and supporters of Trump’s coup plot.
As is common in the Times and other leading news media outlets, there is a focus on the political horse race and competition and the “winners” and “losers” of a given “clash.” Responsible reporting that is in the public interest would emphasize and focus on concrete examples of how the Republican Party’s policies and proposals, as they have for decades, will literally hurt the lives of real people in the United States and around the world. Instead, the Times uncritically presents the Republicans’ claim that they are attempting to cut and end federal “entitlement” programs and “wasteful spending” as part of an effort to “balance the federal budget.” In reality, the Republican Party has been attempting to eliminate the country’s threadbare safety net for decades going back to at least FDR and the New Deal. Their hostility to social democracy is ideological and has little to do with so-called budget deficits.
What would a real liberal news media look like?
Moreover, the Republican Party wants to eliminate government programs so that those monies can be transferred to the very rich and corporations in the form of more tax subsidies and other transfer payments. Yet the Times also echoes Republicans’ insincere and consistently disproved promises and pledges to not cut entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
Media critic and journalist Dan Froomkin has repeatedly called attention to how the New York Times is not some agent of “liberal media bias” but instead serves the status quo and elite opinion – which means deferring to the Republican Party and right-wing:
The twin myth of liberal media and liberal news bias has become so accepted as a type of common sense and conventional wisdom that the following question and intervention is rarely asked or made by those of us with a public voice and platform.
What would a real liberal news media look like?
A real liberal news media would not create a false equivalence or balance between the Republican fascists and “conservatives” on one side and the Democratic Party and liberals and progressives on the other. The former are now enemies of multiracial democracy and pluralism. The latter, whatever the differences ideologically and policy-wise among them (and the failings of the corporate Democrats being duly noted), still believe in and are committed to basic norms and principles of democracy, civil rights, the rule of law, and the Constitution.
On this, the media watchdog group FAIR explains:
A real liberal news media would not defer to corporations, the monied classes and other powerful interests. Instead, the voices and needs of the poor, working class, unions, and those other individuals and groups who are being exploited by late capitalism, and hurt by the types of extreme social inequality it has created would be elevated.
A real liberal news media would have to find a way to escape and operate more independently from advertisers and a profit motive. A real liberal news media would challenge power and ask difficult questions about society, its dominant institutions, and taken-for-granted norms. Voices and perspectives outside of the established political norms and lanes would be given equal time and presented as viable alternatives to the “conventional wisdom.” A real liberal news media would positively contribute to the public’s understanding of politics and society by featuring serious conversations between real experts about real issues of public concern instead of amplifying sound bites, hot takes, and a combative tone that offers lots of heat and entertainment but little insight.
In all, instead of being the Fourth Estate that speaks truth to power and informs the public so that they can hold their leaders accountable, today’s news media too often plays the American people and what has been described as “the attention economy” like it is some casino. In the end, the American news media is experiencing a legitimacy crisis because it has abandoned bold truth-telling and consistently speaking truth to power.
Americans across the ideological divide feel and know this to be true.
By CHAUNCEY DEVEGA